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VDRL Test And HIV
Jan 12, 2007

Silly me I had a fling with a guy who was HIV+ just over three months ago in the summer and there was condom use (thank god) but as his status was unknown at the time (he found out he was HIV+ only two days later and at least had the moral compass to tell me) we may have done some heavy prodding/poking/teasing that could have caused some fluids to jump around in risky areas. In any case, I immediately put myself on the stand-by and waited a while for my HIV 1-2 ELISA test. During this waiting period I developed a mild fever for a few days and subsequently a red rash that went all over my trunk, arms, legs...(ironically not on my palms or soles that I or a doctor could see). Granted it caused a bit of panic for me. I got my ELISA test and, as well, got a VDRL as syphilis is on the rise in my city. I got the results back yesterday with the ELISA showing negative (hallelujah) but the VDRL showing positive and was sent for further confirmatory testing for syphilis. (Who would have ever thought I'd be happy to have syphilis??)

My question to you is has there been any documented cases where a VDRL test would show early HIV infection (hence a positive test) or is this test (as sensitive as it is for detecting many non-syphilis causes) simply not looking for the proper proteins to even slightly detect early HIV infection? I imagine if it was a good gauge of picking up early HIV infection, everyone would use it instead of simply jumping into an expensive PD4..(?) While I feel confident that I don't have HIV (another test in 3 months just to clear the 6 month window) and likely do have syphilis (butt-shot penecillin city) it would be good to know if the VDRL does pick up HIV infection at least so someone who feels they were at risk could go and have the test earlier than they can have an ELISA and if they test positive in the VDRL, can eliminate Syphilis as the cause and then maybe request a PD4. In any case, I think it would be good to know as people seem to be less scared to get a test under the guise of a VDRL than they do for HIV...

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

No. VDRL and HIV ELISA tests are two completely different and unrelated tests.

You are HIV negative and syphilis positive. That means WOO-HOO and "butt-shot penicillin city!!!"

Dr. Bob



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